Carol watched the brilliant sun rise over the still waters of the Luangwa River. At breakfast she noticed everyone arrived in pairs. Another reminder she is no longer a couple, for her the grieving ended but the missing never did.
Carol, with a group of travelers, loaded into jeeps for an hours drive north to the Mupamadzi River. Along a bush road it crossed remote areas of the South Luangwa National Park. The safari camp is set up for their arrival; the canvas tents sit in front a grove of tamarind trees. Hippos lounge in the river and many kinds of birds wade on the water’s edge. Across the river on the sandy bank crocodiles bask in the warm sun.
After lunch Carol arrived at her tent in hopes of an afternoon nap. Inside there are two beds; with wooden boxes placed at each end. On one bed is her back pack and sleeping bag. On the other bed are someone else’s things. She does not like the idea of a roommate, but she has no choice. Carol rolled out her sleeping bag and started to lie down when the tent flap opened.
There stood an older woman with curly hair the same color as her khaki attire. Carol noticed her desert camouflaged hiking boots matched her back pack.
“Hi, I’m Maggie; guess you and I are bunk mates. It’s the buddy thing, safety in numbers,” she stated.
“Welcome, my name is Carol.”
Maggie started to unpack, “Carol, I noticed your wedding ring, your husband didn’t come with you?”
“Two years ago my husband, Dan, died from a heart attack. He and I talked of a trip to Africa. When he died, our plans died. Decided it was time I fulfilled our dream.”
Maggie said with sadness, “I’m sorry for your loss, you must still miss him.”
“How about you, where’s your husband?” Carol asked.
Maggie laughed, “I never married, too busy with other pursuits.”
Everyone woke at sunrise for a morning hike to explore the Luangwa Valley. Scattered across the valley are herds of elephants, zebras, and water buffalo. The camp’s naturalist led the group to an ox-bow lake that is filled with different species of birds. Huge water birds are seen wading through the swallow areas. There are many types of storks, herons, and pelicans. On the way back to the safari camp the game scout pointed out a herd of thornicroft giraffe.
After lunch Carol and Maggie arrive back at their tent for an afternoon nap. They lay down on their beds when Maggie asked, “What do you do for a living?”
“Dan and I worked at a college, he worked in the English Department and I worked in the Journalism Department. After his death I quit my job and opened a used book store, my daughter and I are business partners. She is a single mom, after her father’s death she and her daughter moved in with me. It is a comfort having my daughter and granddaughter close to me. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m an editor who edits,” she rolled over and faced the tent wall.
To Carol it is obvious Maggie isn’t one to talk about herself.
Everyone woke at sunrise for a hike farther up the Mupadanzi River to track a pride of lions. Arriving back at camp for lunch, Carol enters the tent to see Maggie sitting on the edge of the bed.
Maggie asked her to sit down; the two women face each other. “Carol I’m the editor for a magazine called Travel Unique. I’m looking for an older person who loves to travel and lives the adventure. One who is able to write travel articles on what is available for the older person. When you got down on your hands and knees to study wildebeest dung I knew you were the one to hire. I’m offering you a job with Travel Unique.”
Carol exclaimed, “You’re Maggie Malone, founder and editor of Travel Unique. Dan and I use to read your magazine from front to back. You’re the reason he and I wanted to travel to Africa. Now I share the magazine with my granddaughter. She and I started a scrape book of our favorite places to travel. This is unbelievable; I shared a tent with Maggie Malone and didn’t even know it.”
Maggie laughed, “Is that a yes or a no? Do you want the job?”
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